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The search to find April Jones: A timeline

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

  • April was last seen getting into a vehicle at around 7pm on Monday


Police officers, mountain rescue teams and volunteers are combing acres of woodland and thick forest as the search for missing five-year-old April Jones enters its fifth day.

April has been missing since Monday evening, when she was seen getting into a vehicle at around 7pm. She had been playing with a friend near her home in Machynlleth, Powys.

Today Dyfed Powys Police announced Mark Bridger, who was on Tuesday arrested on suspicion of April’s abduction, has now been arrested on suspicion of her murder.

Police have until just before 5pm to charge or release him. They can, however, apply for a further 24 hours warrant of detention for the 46-year-old local man, today.

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Police have described the investigation as "fast-moving" and “one of the largest of its kind in recent history”.

Here we look back at how the events of the past five days have unfolded.

Monday October 1

7pm: April Jones is seen getting into a vehicle on the estate where she lives, in Machynlleth, Powys. There are no apparent signs of a struggle.

10.30pm: Dyfed Powys Police issue a statement saying: "We are increasingly concerned for a missing five-year-old, April, who was last seen playing on her bike in Machynlleth at about 19:30hrs. April was seen getting into a light-coloured van that drove off."

In the hours that follow hundreds of local volunteers join the search for April, and word of her disappearance spreads on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday October 2

8.30am: The search for April continues. Police reveal more details about her disappearance: "Her abduction took place around 7pm in the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth,” they say.

“It was witnessed by another young child when April was seen getting into a grey or light-coloured van, or van-sized vehicle.

"At the time of her disappearance, April was wearing a purple knee-length coat with grey fur around the hood, her school white polo top and black trousers."

A Machynlleth leisure centre becomes the search co-ordination point, with volunteers and rescue teams congregating there.

Posters are pinned up around the town, and police set up roadblocks and search vehicles.

Police release photographs of April.

Midday: Police tell a press conference the vehicle April was seen getting into was van-type vehicle, small at the front and large at the back, meaning it could be a vehicle such as "a Ford Connect or Land Rover".

Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan says at this stage there is nothing to indicate there was a struggle when April got into the vehicle at around 7pm. "April has been described as getting into the driver’s side of the vehicle. This may be because she got in with the driver or that it is left hand drive vehicle," he says.

"Indications are she got into the vehicle willingly", he adds.

The colour is still being described as grey, he says, but police are "mindful that it was dusk and that can affect people's interpretation of colour".

Police say April had been in the company of a number of friends on Monday evening, and one individual was with her when she was taken.

1pm: The search for April tops social networking site Twitter's trending list, as word of her disappearance spreads. There have been more than 150,000 mentions of "April Jones", "#FindApril" and "#FindAprilJones" since 7pm Monday.

3.30pm: Local man Mark Bridger is arrested while walking along the A487. He is wearing a camouflage green jacket and black waterproof trousers with camouflage trousers underneath.

Police seize his car in a separate location to where he was arrested.

4.30pm: Police announce a 46-year-old man has been arrested within the past hour just outside Machynlleth. He is being held at Aberystwyth Police Station, police tell a press conference, but April is still missing.

Police say they are continuing their enquiries with a view that April is still alive.

6pm: A special vigil service is held at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth where prayers are said and candles lit for the safe return of April.

7.45pm: Media reports suggest the man arrested over the abduction of April is known to her family.

8pm: The arrested man is named locally as Mark Bridger.

9.30pm: April’s family release a statement: Read by Det Supt Bevan, it says: "Last night our lives were shattered when our beautiful little girl April who was playing with friends was taken from us.

“We are devastated and our lives have stopped. Please, please if you have our little girl, let her come home to us."

Police and mountain rescue teams work through the night to try to find April.

Wednesday October 3

7.30am: Police deliver a press conference in which they say the overnight search involving 40 officers, dog handlers and mountain rescue teams failed to find April.

Police say volunteers are no longer needed, with Superintendent Ian John saying: "Can we please leave this now to the trained and skilled people that we have.”

He adds: "I don't want those officers to be distracted by the well-intentioned and enthusiastic support" of the public.”

He also reminds the public of the "challenging conditions" in the rural area, and says the poor weather overnight has resulted in the flooding of the River Dyfi.

10.30am: Police release a photograph of the arrested man Mark Leonard Bridger, along with a photograph of his Land Rover Discovery recovered from a repair garage on Tuesday afternoon. The vehicle's registration is L503 MEP.

Police say they have released the image of Bridger to "end speculation".

12.30pm: April's mother Coral Jones makes an emotional appeal for information about her daughter’s whereabouts.

Speaking at a news conference, Ms Jones is in tears as she says: "It's been 36 hours since April was taken from us. There must be someone out there who knows where she is and can help the police find her.

"We are desperate for any news. April is only five years old. Please, please help find her".

Thursday October 4

7.30am: Search co-ordinators concentrate their efforts on 32 villages near Machynlleth, Powys, focusing initially on 15 communities.

Rescuers call for volunteers with local knowledge of the Machynlleth area to assist them.

10am: Between 300 and 400 local volunteers attend a meeting in which they are told to use their own initiative when searching for April Jones, BBC News reports.

Volunteers, who know the area well, are urged to use their own initiative, but told it is imperative they don't get in the way of the police operation.

They are given clear instructions on where to search, one volunteer told BBC News, and each group has a leader.

11am: Police confirm they have been granted an extra 36 hours to question Mark Bridger. Delivering a press conference, Det Supt Bevan says they have until just before 5pm on Friday before they either charge, release or apply for a further warrant of detention.

5.30pm: Dyfed Powys Police say they have received more than 2,500 calls following their appeal. Supt John says police forces from across the UK are helping to process each of them.

He says the force has been "heartened" by the number of calls they’ve received. "It shows the public care," he tells a brief outdoor press conference.

Friday October 5

7am: The search for April enters its fifth day. BBC News reports police worked through the night to find her, but mountain rescue teams were forced to call off their search at 1am because of driving rain.

Police search a small farmhouse in the village of Ceinws, where Bridger was known to be living most recently.

10.30am: Police announce Mark Bridger has been arrested on suspicion of April's murder.

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